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Turkmenistan is a Central Asian nation roughly the size of California. It shares borders with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. Turkmenistan gained its independence in 1991 during the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Primarily a desert country, it has a population of around six million people. Tourist facilities, especially outside of the capital city of Ashgabat, are not highly developed. Many of the goods and services taken for granted in North American and Western European countries are not yet available. Travel within the country can be difficult due to limited infrastructure and government-imposed internal travel restrictions. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Turkmenistan for additional information.



Image of Turkmenistan
Country Name: Turkmenistan
Continent: Asia
Capital City: Ashgabat
Boundary Countries:

Afghanistan 744 km, Iran 992 km, Kazakhstan 379 km, Uzbekistan 1,621 km

Recommended Hospitals in Capital:

None at this time

Main Cities:

Ashgabat, Mary, Gusgy, Turkmenbasy, Dasoguz, Balkanabat, Gyzylarbat, Turkmenabat, Atamyrat

Country Size: 488,100 sq km
Population: 5,179,571



Turkmen 72%, Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, other 7%

Currency: Turkmen Manat (TMM)
Predominant Religions:

Muslim 89%, Eastern Orthodox 9%, unknown 2%

National Holidays: Independence day, 27 October (1991)
Economic Status:

Turkmenistan is  largely a desert country with intensive agriculture in irrigated oases and large gas and oil resources. One-half of its irrigated land is planted in cotton; formerly it was the world's 10th-largest producer. Poor harvests in recent years have led to an almost 50% decline in cotton exports. With an authoritarian ex-Communist regime in power and a tribally based social structure, Turkmenistan has taken a cautious approach to economic reform, hoping to use gas and cotton sales to sustain its inefficient economy. Privatization goals remain limited.


Ground Forces, Navy, Air and Air Defense Forces

US Presence:

United States Embassy Ashgabat
9 1984 Street (formerly Pushkin Street)
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Telephone: (993-12) 35-00-45
Consular Information Line: (993-12) 35-00-49
Facsimile: (993-12) 39-26-14

Document Requirements:

American citizens must have a valid passport and visa and/or letter of invitation from the Government of Turkmenistan to enter and exit Turkmenistan. To apply for a visa, all US citizens must complete an application and have a letter of invitation approved by the State Migration Service (SMS), formerly known as the State Service for the Registration of Foreigners (SSRF), in Ashgabat. An individual or organization in Turkmenistan must submit the letter of invitation on behalf of an American citizen to the SMS accompanied by a copy of the traveler's passport ID page. Each traveler’s passport must be valid for at least 6 months following the date of the application. The SMS requires at least 15 working days for approval. The US Embassy in Ashgabat does not issue letters of invitation to citizens interested in private travel to Turkmenistan. Applications for a visa can be submitted to the Embassy of Turkmenistan in Washington, DC, or directly to the SMS in Ashgabat. Under local law, a traveler with a stamped and approved invitation letter may also obtain a visa at the Ashgabat International Airport upon arrival in Turkmenistan; however, some travelers have reported difficulties with airlines not boarding passengers who only have approved invitation letters in lieu of a visa for onward travel to Turkmenistan. Travelers are strongly recommended to obtain a visa before traveling.
The price for the visa will vary according to the intended length of stay.  For an additional charge, the SMS can extend a visa in Ashgabat beyond its initial validity. Any traveler arriving without a visa or without the documents necessary to obtain a visa will be denied entry and may be held at the airport or border until the traveler has secured transportation out of Turkmenistan. Based on past incidents, the Embassy discourages travelers from planning to use transit visas in lieu of obtaining tourist visas through a travel agency. The US Embassy in Ashgabat is unable to intervene with Turkmenistani authorities regarding the admission of private travelers to Turkmenistan. Travelers departing Turkmenistan must have a current valid visa or they will be denied exit until they have extended the validity of the visa through their departure date. In addition, US citizens traveling in Turkmenistan should be aware that they need special permission from the SMS to travel to areas of the country that have been restricted by the Government of Turkmenistan, including almost all border areas.
Upon arrival at an airport or border entry point, foreigners will be charged approximately $12 for an immigration card issued by Turkmen authorities. All foreigners are required to carry this immigration card for the duration of their stay in Turkmenistan. Authorities will collect the immigration card upon departure. Those departing Turkmenistan from the Ashgabat airport and flying with a non-Turkmenistani flagged carrier are required to pay a $25 departure fee.
In addition to the immigration requirements mentioned above, foreigners are subject to local registration requirements. Americans who plan to stay more than three working days in Turkmenistan must register with the SMS. SMS offices are located in all of Turkmenistan's five major cities: Ashgabat, Dashoguz, Mary, Turkmenabat and Turkmenbashy. Foreigners who plan to travel outside of the city in which they will register must inform the SMS in advance; otherwise travelers will face fines or deportation. One day prior to their departure from Turkmenistan foreigners must return to an SMS office to register the departure.  Foreigners should be registered and deregistered at the SMS in the city in which their sponsoring organization is located.  Foreigners who fail to register their departure may be prevented by immigration authorities from leaving the country until they have done so. The penalties for remaining in Turkmenistan with an expired visa or for failing to register with SMS include fines, arrest, and/or deportation. Foreigners who are deported for these violations may be prohibited from returning to Turkmenistan for up to five years. American citizens in Turkmenistan are strongly urged to ensure that their visas do not expire and that they register with SMS upon arrival and upon departure.
Visitors holding tourist visas organized by a travel agency must stay in hotels; other visitors may stay in private accommodations whose owner must register the visitor's presence. Visit the Embassy of Turkmenistan web site for the most current visa information.
Several popular travel guides discuss traveling by “ferry” across the Caspian Sea from Baku, Azerbaijan, to the port of Turkmenbashy in western Turkmenistan. Some travelers have faced problems attempting to travel to Turkmenistan by boat. Travelers should be aware that these “ferries” are in fact cargo ships that take on some passengers incidental to their primary function. Passengers are generally not provided food or water on these ships, and sleeping and sanitary facilities are likely to be rudimentary. Travelers should be aware that ships arriving at the port of Turkmenbashy often wait days offshore for outgoing ships to vacate the dock to allow incoming ships to disembark. Some travelers have spent more than a week offshore while their ship awaited permission to enter the port, and they have run out of stores of food and water, or had their Turkmen visas expire before they could be used. For this and other reasons travelers, especially those who plan to enter Turkmenistan by boat, are discouraged from using transit visas to enter Turkmenistan.
At Ashgabat International Airport, most airlines do not accept payment for tickets by credit card, or in any currency other than US dollars or Turkmen manat. Travelers planning direct transit through Turkmenistan en route to another country should be aware that if they are stranded due to a missed connection, they will not be allowed to leave the arrival detention area until they are able to buy a ticket for an onward flight out of Turkmenistan. For this reason, the Embassy discourages travelers from planning to directly transit through Ashgabat International Airport.

Major Airports:

Airports: 28,    Airports w/paved runways: 22

Ashkabad Airport (ASB/UTAA)
Ashkhabad Airport, Turkmenistan, Petrozavodskaya Street, 744000 Ashkhabad, TURKMENISTAN
Tel: +993 1 225-60-64, +993 1 229-39-64, +993 1 225-44-02
Fax: +993 1 225-44-02


Servicing Airlines:
Risks and Precautions:

Those considering travel to Turkmenistan should take the country's proximity to regions of past and current instability into account before making any plans. The Government of Turkmenistan has designated many areas throughout the country as “restricted zones,” particularly the border areas next to Iran, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan, the entire region of Dashoguz (including Dashoguz city), and areas of the Caspian coast. Travel to these areas by foreigners is forbidden without special permission from the Government of Turkmenistan.
Visible police and military presence in Turkmenistan is common. Both uniformed and plainclothes officials frequently ask to see passports, visas, migration cards, and SMS registrations. Travelers should ask to see identification if they are not certain that the person requesting the information is an official. These documentation checks, and residence and vehicle searches, are common. Security personnel maintain checkpoints on major roads.
Security personnel may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones, and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. Taking photographs of anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest, such as government buildings, may result in problems with authorities. Visitors should ask whether buildings may be photographed.
Supporters of extremist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Al-Qaeda, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement remain active in Central Asia. These groups have expressed anti-US sentiments and may attempt to target US Government or private interests in the region, including in Turkmenistan. Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets.  Because of increased security at official U.S. facilities, terrorists are seeking softer civilian targets such as residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, hotels, schools, outdoor recreation events, resorts, beaches, maritime facilities, and commercial aircraft.

Turkmenistan is an earthquake-prone country.
Road conditions in Turkmenistan make driving difficult and sometimes dangerous.

Mortality Statistics:

Infant MR total:  51.81 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:  TOTAL 68.6 years  (male 65.53 / female 71.82) 

Immunization Indicators:

Required: None
Recommended: Hep A & B, Typhoid, Rabies
Boosters: MMR, DPT, Polio 

Infectious Disease Concerns:

Malaria risk area in Turkmenistan: Risk in southeast Mary Region and in the flood plains between the Murgab and Tedzhen Rivers.
Drugs to Prevent Malaria (Antimalarial drugs)
If you will be visiting a malaria risk area in Turkmenistan, chloroquine is the recommended antimalarial drug.
Tickborne encephalitis (TBE) is widespread, occurring in warmer months in the southern part of the nontropical forested regions of Europe and Asia. Most intense transmission has been reported in Russia, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia. The annual incidence rate of tuberculosis is high in some countries in the region. High rates of drug-resistant TB are found in Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, parts of Russia, and Uzbekistan. Cases of diphtheria have declined (after a large outbreak in the 1990s) with improved rates of immunization.
Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Turkmenistan. Currently, HIV tests are not required for applicants requesting tourist visas; however, should an individual be discovered to be HIV positive, that status would be grounds for denial of a visa, or deportation. All individuals requesting residence visas are required to submit to an HIV test. 

Overall Quality of Medical Services:

Medical care in Turkmenistan is limited and well below North American and Western European standards. All visitors are strongly advised to purchase medical evacuation insurance to cover costs associated with transporting them to adequate medical facilities in the event of serious illness or injury. Such travel can be expensive if undertaken under emergency conditions, and, absent this insurance, medical evacuation travel may be logistically impossible on an emergency basis. Travelers with medical conditions should consult their regular physician to determine whether travel to Turkmenistan is advisable in light of the level of available health care. Resident American citizens travel to Western Europe or North America for treatment of any serious medical condition. The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of public hospitals and English-speaking physicians in the country, however the standard of care at these hospitals cannot be considered comparable to Western standards.  Basic medical supplies, including disposable needles, anesthetics, and antibiotics are often in short supply. Two private clinics have foreign medical practitioners (generally Turkish) who may be available for consultations and treatment; these clinics, however, have refused in some cases to admit patients with serious conditions, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay for treatment. Even at these hospitals, the standard of care is low compared to Western standards. Travelers requiring prescription medications should bring sufficient supplies of all necessary medications and appropriate documentation to ensure there are no problems with customs officials upon arrival.


Providers in Network:
Direct Payment: 0
Referrals: 1
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Recent Medical Threats/ Concerns/Warnings:

Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1 has been documented in wild birds or other avian species in several of the countries in Eastern Europe. Human cases and death were reported from Azerbaijan in 2006. Avoid all direct contact with birds, including domestic poultry (such as chickens and ducks) and wild birds, and avoid places such as poultry farms and bird markets where live birds are raised or kept. For a current list of countries reporting outbreaks of H5N1 among poultry and/or wild birds, view updates from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and for total numbers of confirmed human cases of H5N1 virus by country, see the World Health Organization (WHO) Avian Influenze website.

Communications Info:

Calling Code: +993
Internet Code: .tm


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